"Run?!? Are you crazy?!?" Yep that was me. That is what my response to anyone would have been if the subject of running came up. I NEVER ran - not one little, itty, bitty step between my birth in November 1970 and my first day of training with Coach Jen in February 2010. Other phrases I repeated often: "I have a garage so there is no need for me to be outside from December through March." and "Is there such a thing as morning before 8:30am?"
So what has gotten me through eleven 5Ks, two 10Ks and three half marathons? What got me up pre-8:30am and outside during the forbidden months of December, January, February and March? Simply put, Coach Jen.
Coach Jen's training program is truly for a beginner. It is hard work but with a can-do attitude it is achievable. What? You cannot find your can-do attitude. No worries I had trouble with that myself, Jen taught me where to find it within myself. Jen is extremely encouraging. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Her patience is that of a saint. Her knowledge of running is second to none.
Knowing that Coach Jen and my team was waiting for me on Saturday mornings kept me accountable. If for no other reason I would drag myself out of bed, get dressed and lace up my shoes because they were waiting for me. At the Saturday meeting Jen would give me homework for the week ahead. I would need to complete it and return it to her on the following Saturday. The second reason I got out of bed, I had homework to turn in. The third reason I drug myself out of my comfy, cozy, snuggly bed pre-8:30am during the forbidden months is that Jen had a topic for discussion that I did not want to miss. These topics are essential for the newbie runner. She talked about safety, apparel, hydration, form, nutrition, terms that runners use, etc. The things I learned at those meetings helped me greatly through my training (then and now). The fourth reason I forced myself up and out of the house, was the team run. This is where I and four other newbie runners worked hard to accomplish that day's goal under Jen's protective wing. It was comforting to know that I was not the only newbie runner on the planet. Some were slower than me, others faster but that was OK because I was running to show myself that I could do this. My competitor was internal not external - it is still that way for me today. I still push myself against my own limits not someone else's.
Hearing Coach Jen cheer and seeing her at the finish line of my first 5k made me realize just what I accomplished. It was truly something that I did. My husband, kids, friends, parents and co-workers provided love and encouragement. Coach Jen gave me knowledge and guidance. But it was me that finished that race. I did the training. I put one foot in front of the other. I refused to quit when my body was screaming "STOP!" Others can give me knowledge, loving support, babysit the kids, cheer me on but at the end of it all it is all me. And I am sweaty. I stink. My hair is matted. I do not have on any make-up. I do not have on any jewelry. My shoes were bought solely for comfort and fit. My clothes probably do not match. But after a training run or a race I feel like a super model on the catwalk.
I am still looking for the "runner's high" I have read about. Maybe it is in "the zone" which I have not found either. Those sound like pretty cool things to experience so I will keep looking for them. Oh but I have found "the wall" several times. It just jumps right out in front of me and stops me dead in my tracks. But that is OK because on my next run I take a sledge hammer and that "wall" leaves me alone.
So here I am less than two years from the first time I laced up a pair of running shoes. I now can run a faster mile than I ever have in my entire life (including high school). I have ran in temperatures from -5 to 105 and as early 5:00am. I have taken my running shoes with me on vacation. I sleep better, feel better, have lost weight and my self-esteem has shot through the roof. To keep me motivated and on track I always have two races on the calendar. My biggest challenge is still myself. Every time I lace up those shoes, I win! Every time I cross a mile marker, I win! Every time I keep going when I just really want to stop, I win! Every time I step outside in the hot, cold, rain, snow, or humidity, I win! And most important every time I cross a finish line not only do I win but I am the winner.
Jeanette G. -Illinois
"Jen - I got the results of my blood tests back from the health fair, ALL of my blood levels were within the normal range…….YAY!!!. Thanks to running or jogging or "waugging" [walk-jogging] or whatever it is I do!"
Melissa D. - Illinois
"Jen, there are no words to express how much I appreciate all of your help as a coach and friend as I prepared for my first half marathon. You have inspired me in so many ways. I can't wait to run in more half marathons and a full marathon as well!! I am so blessed that our paths crossed."
Karen W. – Glen Carbon, IL
"The Recliner to Runner Program has helped me stop the trend of laziness! I can actually run without being out of breath or exhausted! After having my third child losing weight was extremely hard. My figure is starting to form back with only five weeks of being in the program. I've lost eight pounds!"
Kathi H. – Illinois
"I used to think that to run that you just go out and run. I couldn't have been more wrong! I have learned so much about running, since I first joined this Program. I started with a 5K and kept building from there. I ran my first marathon this year! I lost twenty pounds in the first six months of training with Jen. Going through this program, I learned about gear to help you stay comfy mile after mile. I also learned about nutrition and the importance of having a running program to help you build mileage the right way. I am always looking forward to my next run! I love RUNNING!"
Trent C. - Illinois
"My goal before turning the BIG 40 - was to run my first 5K. The plan Jen set up for me worked great - I have a very tight schedule being a single parent of two young ones that demand A LOT of my time. I was trained and ready to go within 9 weeks - and the schedule was flexible enough that my training did not interfere with my kid time or busy work/travel schedule. Every time I ran - I could hear Jen's voice in my head - "You know you can do this!!" And I DID!! Race day came - and I must admit I was a bit nervous - Jen happened to be running in the same race as I and she kept encouraging me before the start of the race. When the race started the adrenaline kicked in and crossing that finish line was a huge sense of accomplishment. Another benefit - I lost 5 pounds. This plan really works and is very manageable regardless of your time constraints."
Sandy C. – Missouri
Jenifer's unique coaching style was PERFECT for me. She provides the best balance of "cheerleader" and "drill sergeant", leaning more toward the "cheerleader". I am 42 and was basically inactive for the last 15 years, since having children. I never dreamed that I could run a 5k. Jenifer's training program made it so easy. I am hooked on running and have completed seven 5k runs in the last nine months and am looking forward to the eighth.
Kelly S. – Illinois
Running was always a struggle for me until I started the Recliner to Runner program. Jen is an awesome coach; she made the training sessions fun and tailored the training to my fitness level and goals. Since starting the program, I have ran two 5Ks and am now training for a marathon relay. Running has helped me get in better shape, gain more energy, and relieve stress. The group training sessions are a great way to motivate each other, learn tips from other runners, and meet some great friends in the process!
Courtney W. - Illinois
Coaches Favorite Quotes:
"My feet finally remembered tonight...I just kept going and going and going and going.....I'm totally feeling the happiness again! Your love is my drug, girl!"
Mandy H. – Missouri
"I shaved 17:37 minutes off my half marathon time from April! Your coaching skills are the BEST!!!!!"
Jeanette G – Illinois
"It's Saturday morning. I'm awake and ready to go for a run with the bestest running coach in the whole wide world, coach Jen."
Kelly S. – Illinois
"After over 31 years.... and at my AGE!... I've decided to RUN!!! Saturday morning is my first test race. The real one is end of September. Thanks to all my encouraging friends and family and Coach Jen."
Gina W. – Illinois
Jen - Owner/Coach
Jen has been a running coach since 2004 and a runner for 25+ years. She has trained hundreds of runners to their first, fastest and farthest run. She is experienced at proper running form and biomechanics. She is a Certified Shoe Fit Specialist, an RRCA Certified Running Coach and USATF Level 1 Certified Coach. Jen's list of running accomplishments includes: 37 marathons, including Boston Marathon and Pikes Peak Marathon, Ironman triathlon, North Country 50 Mile Ultra Marathon, attempted Leadville Colorado 100 mile trail run twice, and countless other road and trail races. She spends her spare time running trails in the woods and loves running in to work in the mornings. Jen opened RunWell in 2013 to help others reach their fitness and running goals, keep them motivated, connected and celebrated.
Kayla - Staff
Kayla started at RunWell in 2014